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Research on Languages and Linguistics seminars

Personalisation in calls to a Montevidean carer service company

This paper attempts to characterise aspects of the interactional style of a segment of Montevidean society in non-emergency calls to a 'carer service company'. It does so by presenting an overview of the recurrent features found in the openings of calls where a client's next of kin phones the company to a request a carer on behalf of the client.

The first part of the paper examines the structure of the openings in the light of the research previously carried out in this area on English service calls using analytical tools from conversation analysis. The findings reveal that they unfold in distinguishable sequences, namely summons/answer, identification/recognition and the reason for the call. In this respect they show a similar pattern to that identified in English service calls. Unlike the latter, however, the Montevidean calls analysed in this study exhibit a high incidence of greetings and self-identification by the service provider during the initial sequences.

The second part of the paper investigates the pragmatic function(s) of verbal elements within the turns of the openings. More specifically, an analysis of the realisation of the reason for the call is provided as well as a discussion of the pragmatic function(s) of greetings and self-identification. The results indicate that both call-takers and callers display an overall preference for interactional closeness. The observed interactional closeness is explained by the participants' orientation towards the positive end of Brown and Levinson's (1987) politeness dichotomy and by the callers' strategic aim of ensuring a good service.


Dr Rosina Marquez Reiter | talks | www


Date and Time:

24 May 2004 at 4:00 pm


1 hour



Linguistics and English Language, University of Sussex
D310, University of Sussex
+44 12 73 67 80 00

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